Gartner Analyst Urges Action on Corporate Distrust

Gartner Research VP Diane Tunick-Morello this week called corporate distrust a “critical issue” and suggested that ethics and social responsibility move to the forefront of corporate imaging.

“The situation that is critical right now is the distrust the American public has for all traditional institutions,” Tunick-Morello said. “IT includes corporations, governments and religions. “What we will see in the wake of the Enron-Andersen is a reaction to the cloak of integrity falling from several corporations.”

Tunick-Morello has authored a report called “How The Enron Effect Makes the CIO’s Job Tougher.” It was created originally for executives at IT companies, but she also believes that aggressive promotion, including advertising can affect the crisis in trust. “I would suggest that consumers are looking for how ethical and socially responsible companies are right now,” she says. “Advertising that shows this could be effective. Other activities can be effective too such as PR and sponsorships of social activities.”

What kind of advertising? Tunick-Morello cautions against capitalizing on tragedy, so helping victims or families of victims of Sept. 11 is out. She points to recent H-P print campaign that showed how H-P servers enabled a network of homeless shelters to work more effectively as the type of campaign that llows companies to show what their products can do for communities.

The report urges executives at major corporations to define current and potential conflicts of interest. “Enron’s collapse and its involvement with auditor Arthur Andersen has increased awareness of potential conflicts of interest — not only between consulting and auditing companies, but also across the business and its value chain,” the report states.